Sometimes the answer to "Will it waffle?" is "Sure ... I guess."
This one is really ridiculous. I'm not even sure it "counts." Yes, the dough goes in the waffle iron. But it doesn't cook there. In fact, for this to work, you want to leave the dough in the waffle iron only briefly. And then you still need to bring a pot of oil to 350 degrees.
Which raises the question: Why would you involve the waffle iron?
Which I don't have the answer to.
Not the why, anyway. Just the how.
At any rate, here's the most important thing: These are really great doughnuts.
And the waffling part isn't very much extra work.
Helpfully, at the top of this post I've included an ordinary doughnut in the photo as a point of reference. In case you've forgotten what one looks like. ("Oh, doughnuts.") I should say in the interest of full disclosure, you won't want your doughnuts quite as waffled as the one in that photo. More on that in a minute.
Take note of the ingredients: There's only half a cup of sugar in these doughnuts — and even that is offset by two-thirds of a cup of cocoa powder. Some additional sweetness does creep in through the bittersweet chocolate in the batter, and some comes from the frosting — especially if you make it using semisweet chocolate rather than bittersweet. Notice, too, the sour cream and the coffee.
These are dark, rich, sophisticated doughnuts.
You don't need special equipment to make them. At one point in my life, I had a deep fryer. I loved that thing, but now I just use a deep pot.
And you can absolutely buy a doughnut cutter. And I really love the idea of this 11-piece cutter set that can pretty much set you up for any number of projects. But if you have neither of these things, you can use a drinking glass to cut out the doughnut, and then a cardboard tube, apple corer or the cap from a two-liter bottle to punch out the hole. (All of those ideas I owe to people on Twitter. Thanks!)
If these doughnuts are going to be waffled, do you still need to punch out the center? Yes. It helps them fry more evenly.
Once you've punched out the dough, you're ready to begin.
The key is to not let the dough sit in the waffle iron too long. About 20 seconds should do. Why? Because the doughnut batter doesn't have enough lifting power to recover from being pressed down for more than that. If you waffle the dough for too long, yes, it will look more like a waffle. But without the network of air pockets from the rising action of the baking powder and baking soda/sour cream, it will be unpleasantly dense.
Take a look at the crumb structure of these three doughnuts.
The sample on the left is a normal doughnut, with enough tiny holes from the rising of the dough to make it satisfyingly light. Meanwhile, the sample in the middle was cooked in the waffle iron about two minutes before it was tossed in the deep fryer. Notice how dense it is. Finally, the sample on the right was pressed in the waffle iron only briefly and then plunged into the oil. The network of air pockets is similar to that of the ordinary doughnut, which means it's as light as it should be.
So after 20 seconds in the waffle iron, will these doughnuts look like waffles? Sort of. Like the waffled soft pretzels, they'll turn out looking a bit like what they're supposed to be — doughnuts — and a bit like they've been run over by a truck.
One final note on the doughnuts: They freeze beautifully.